Monday, August 31, 2009


There have been three times when God has actually spoken to me audibly--where I actually heard His words. When He does this, He uses my own internal Scott-voice, the same one that says things like, "a chocolate shake sounds good", "my wife is tougher than she thinks", "I don't think my boss likes me". But when God uses my voice, it has wisdom and insight and truth that I do not possess.

The first time was as I drove away from a very successful business meeting. I was so happy with the way things turned out I was giddy and grinning as I pulled out of the parking lot. I started immediately praying and thanking God for His presence at the meeting and his obvious providence. At one point I told Him, "You are an awesome God!" And I immediately heard at the back of my mind, "Then why don't you tell anyone about Me?"

Sadly, I had no answer for the Creator of All. And so I set forth to tell folks about our wonderful God. Not in the conventional, religious (I hate that word!) ways. But in my own way. And I am still doing it in various ways. (If you are reading this, consider yourself centered in God's crosshairs!)

Another time, when I was not so happy, I was doing the old whiny prayer, you know: "Oh, woe is me! Why am I constantly under this dark cloud. God, where are you? Why don't I feel you near me anymore?" This time he said, "You need to let me love you."

Now how do you respond to that? How was I, a mere mortal, preventing the Creator of All including me, from loving me? But I knew He was right. I was blocking Him, turning away from His love at times, at others only paying attention to Him when I wanted something. And always trying to do things my way instead of trusting Him to take care of me. I had to ask Him to show me how, but I have slowly learned to "let" God love me and I feel it daily.

The third time is still hard to talk about.

My biological father left when I was very young and I knew next to nothing about him most of my life. Then, when my son Andrew was born, I couldn't fathom turning my back on this wonderful, snuggly gift from God. How did my dad do it? Why? I wanted to know. I needed to know what the hell he was thinking.

My sister and I tracked him down, arranged a meeting, met and liked each other. He was a decent man and we made plans to build a relationship or at least get together again in the future.

Then nothing. He occassionally sends a little token to me or Andrew. But there's no relationship. No plans. No father and son anything.

And one night I was feeling bad about that. Angry. Sad. Self-pity. So I started praying. I asked God why He let this happen. Why I was one of those kids, who grow up without their real father (and with a substitute father who, may he rest-in-peace, was an SOB when I was growing up). I asked God if He even realized how much of my potential was wasted because I didn't feel the love of my dad when I needed it most. I actually asked Him that!

I asked Him about my childhood: my mother dating and bringing home men I didn't know; her callousness toward me when I bothered her when she had a visitor. Living half the time with my grandparents (which was a breath of fresh air in a suffocating existence).

After Mom married my stepfather, I spent a year or more, forcing myself to stay awake at night for fear someone would break into the house. I was sure they would kill my whole family and I wanted to protect my family, despite the fact that we now had a protector of the family. I was a six-year-old watchdog. I asked God why did I feel so unsafe now that I had a "daddy".

And God whispered to me, "Because you were told your family was in danger."

What?! Who tells a 6-year-old kid something like that? And then God said, so very gently because He knew this would floor me, "Someone who wanted you to keep a secret."

And for a little while, my whole world tilted.

I don't remember who or what or when the secret happened. I just know it did, against my will. (I always suspected it, before that conversation--I had way too much knowledge about sex when I was young. And there is other evidence).

And for about an hour that night, I sat at the dining room table, with my wife and son upstairs sleeping in peace and oblivious to my plight, and cried. God was quiet, but I know He was with me.

It doesn't happen very often, but I like to cry. My eyes feel clean afterward. And my soul felt clean after that night. It was something I needed to remember, something I needed to know, and God told me as gently and softly as He could. Because before that night, I had refused to see it, look at it, even open the box. But once it was open, the healing could begin.

The healing is ongoing. My wife is beside me, helping me. And God is inside me, urging me on. He wants to see me whole. Because that is what He had in mind all along.

Jeremiah 29-11. Again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A little fiction with a lot of truth

I wrote this little story a few months ago. It's my thank you to Father God.


As my mother died, so shall I. A disease that robs me of my motor skills, my muscle strength, my ability to smile. As she died, without dignity.

Not because in the end I avoided her bedside. Not because I avoided bringing comfort that I felt devoid of but that she might have embraced.

That is not why, because God does not work that way. The whole “karma industry” is a falsehood. A lie. A ploy by the Accuser to lure one into hating God. Grace is a gift, not a salary.

I succumb to this disease because of a simple molecular anomaly. A chromosome here, an extra protein there. It doesn’t really matter. I have the disease and it will embrace me. I will not embrace it.

For ten years it has stolen bits of my life away. Some I didn’t notice until they were gone. Some I would wonder at, perplexed, and then move on. But I cannot move far. Without mechanical aids.

I can no longer speak. Early, when the words came out crooked, they were often humorous. But now they circle my mind like a pigeon without feet.

A good anchor brings control, and an end to movement. My legs are anchors.

My hands are dead birds on the ends of a branch. They grasp the pencil, but they cannot take flight.

But, after many days, I managed to scratch out two letters for my wife to read. Sweat and furrowed brow and muscle aches in my fingers. She read them at chairside: m and p.

She spent weeks trying to unravel the riddle, watching my eyes for the blink that would reward her quest. But eventually she cried on my shoulder. Then slept from exhaustion.

So I tried again. Three letters this time: m o i.

For a while she thought I had revisited my lost high school days. I’d have laughed if my lips and throat would awaken. I’m sure my French teacher would have guffawed. She had a great laugh.

One day my wife arrived home from a field trip with her niece’s kindergarten class. She was excited, singing and pirouetting in a sundress as she prepared a simple meal. When I saw the picnic basket, I grew excited too, though she could not tell. She loaded the van: blanket, oxygen bottle, picnic basket. My excitement runneth over.

And she lowered the ramp and locked my chair in place. She brushed my hair.

When she made the left turn I knew she had it. When she parked and looked at me, I blinked three times: I love you.

And here I sit, my hand gripping a pen, writing in flawless script. Complete letters. Complete sentences. Complete thoughts. It is here, at Moir Park, that I first felt your presence, Father God. And here that she and I shared shy picnics as we grew to know each other.

And it is here, on this late spring day that believes it is summer, that You have uncensored me. You have loosed my mind and hand to tell a love story.

You are uninterrupted here, save the birdsong and the tree-sway and the pollen-laden breeze that cools my forehead.

I thank You Lord, for meeting me here. Thank You for meeting my needs. I thank You for the shade.
The wind, your breath, sends maple seeds helicoptering onto the notebook. Your fragrance, green and earthy and alive envelops me. Your whispers of peace and proclamations of joy bounce from tree to tree, beak to ear. I thank You for that.

I sit in a snowstorm of seeds, caught in the middle of dueling cardinals. Both proclaim themselves the prettiest “pretty bird, pretty bird”. But I know the truth: both are as beautiful as You say.

For You are all that matters, Father. My disease, my worries, my confessions of past sins, all pale to insignificance in your presence. I thank You for that.

And I thank You for a wife who took solemnly her oath to You, and holds it tight to her breast: to love me forever, in health or unwell, in good times and in the darkness I bestowed on her. To never give up. I thank You for a wife who uses words like gallant and humble to describe me, even though I am neither. In my estimation.

I am simply beloved. By You. And her. What more. Can ask for.

Thank God you. But moments to express. Thoughts. Birdsong. Wife’s touch. Love.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I’ve been thinking about my three sisters lately. They are three successful, amazing people with incredible kids and big hearts. And I haven’t spoken to any of them in several months.

Another way God talks to me is to put an inescapable thought on my mind. Like a dream you can’t quite remember from the night before, but all day the person in the dream is just a thought away. Today, and yesterday, Vivian, Brenda and Joyce have been on my mind.

I suspect God is saying, "You are pushing them away." To which I want to argue, "No! They are pushing me away!" And though I think both statements are correct to a certain degree, I know God is right. Duh!

I don’t know why, in our old age, we have no real interest in maintaining a relationship with each other. In some ways—a less than happy childhood, abuse, frequent moves—we should cling tightly to the alliances we built as children. We needed the mental safety our siblings provided.

But as we’ve grown older, we have grown apart. And that chasm has never been wider than since our mother died this year. The mother who was certainly partly to blame for our childhood.

Maybe it’s just part of growing up. Minda and her brother go several months at a time without speaking to each other. My friend Nate says he and his siblings rarely talk. But I have other friends who will move mountains to go visit their sister or brother.

Perhaps it is a “mirror effect”: those we grew up with are too strong a reminder of all our childish foibles, sins and family dysfunction. The ones we long to forget. The ones our family will always remember and if not condemn us for, remind us of them just by their very presence in the room. Or our life.

I think we forget that the only opinion that matters is God’s and he’s already gone way past our foibles and forgiven our sins and repaired our dysfunctions.

A couple years ago I had a prayer-vision concerning my sisters. I was praying, just after laying down to sleep for the night (morning actually, as I was working third shift at the time). As I prayed with eyes closed, the dark field in front of me became a black field, black as in total absence of light. A palpable black.

Then a glowing ball of silver threads appeared and moved into the center of the field. Despite the bright silvery glow, the field remained mostly black, only illuminating the area immediately around it. It was a warm glow (not that I felt it, but I sensed the warmth of the Presence in the glow).

The silvery threads were dropping off the ball, landing randomly on the ground, still glowing. I started gathering them up and making vertical stacks, like sheaves of wheat. And then I gave the sheaves to two women, whom I knew, somehow, were two of my sisters.

My interpretation was that the glowing ball was God and the threads were strands of His love and I was gathering them and giving them to my sisters. I wanted to share God’s love with my sisters.

To this day, I do not know which two of my three sisters I was meant to share God’s love with. Maybe the two were representative of the three. A friend suggested they represented all my “sisters”, the ones whom I love in the Body of Christ as well as my birth sisters.

I think all three of my sisters are Believers, but only one has professed to me a living relationship with God. Sad that I don’t know for sure where the other two stand. And isn’t that a more important failure on my part than any childish foible I may be embarrassed about?

If God was telling me that He wanted me to bring His love to my sisters, I have not only failed in that mission, but like Jonah, I have run from His instruction. I hope it’s not too late to head back to Ninevah.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

(Darrell, welcome to my blog!)

We had church at Josie’s house today. And right after a few songs—including my all time favorite, “How Great Thou Art”, Josie asked me point blank, “Have you had any dreams lately?”

Well yes. This very morning, just after dawn.

In the dream, I was building a large scale outdoor game that encompassed an area with a running stream. I built several stairways and paths to the stream on the grassy bank on one side, while the other side had a flat, layered rocky surface. Once it was complete, I gathered together the guys from our men’s meeting to show them the game.

I don’t know what the object of the game was or how it was played other than the first player, which was me, rolled a single 9-sided die. The die bounced over the stream to the rocky side, ricocheted a few times and disappeared into a sandy area at one end.

So we all started looking for the die. At one point, Darrell was nearby and I looked over my shoulder at the playing field, at the stairways and stream, and told him, “I’m really proud of the way this turned out. It looks good.”

Right about then, Darrell pointed in the sand and said “There it is.” But as he picked the die up, we could see that the die had broken into several pieces.

My interpretation: The gamefield I had built represented this blog, something I recently built and am “really proud of” (my pride usually pops its ugly head up somewhere when my writing is involved). I have worked hard at making it “look good” (not the actual appearance of the blog, of course, but the writing and the exposition of the idea that talking with God happens all the time).

And strangely, it is something that I consciously chose not to tell Darrell about in an email I sent yesterday to a couple other people, including several members of the men’s group.

Why didn’t I tell Darrell? Darrell is certainly someone I like and respect. And I have learned a lot, from him, his insight into God's nature, and his own fallible walk with God. As a father of a son, Darrell is a valuable model when it comes to trusting God with all.

But for reasons I don’t fully understand, I felt less than confident in revealing my blog to Darrell—at the time.

I believe the dream was God telling me that not only should I tell Darrell about it, but that Darrell might have valuable feedback on the content of it. Perhaps some aspect of the message I am trying to deliver is broken, like the die, and Darrell can tell me what it is and how to fix it. Darrell is very good at clarifying things for me.

A new email has been sent!

Josie had another take on the dream. Her thought was that the broken die was God saying (reminding us) that He doesn’t roll the dice. He doesn't play that way. He blesses whomever He chooses. And he chooses what/when/where and how He blesses.

Jill (with a little help from Minda) pointed out that Jeremiah 29-11 says: For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

Darrell’s presence in the dream was as a representative of the Body, pointing out God’s lesson to me. Like he often does in real life.

I like Josie’s picture much better than the picture of God rolling dice to decide my life and future. And I am reminded also to be thankful that God follows His plan and not mine! So many of my prayers over the years, had they been answered my way, would have been a disaster!

God, how great thou art!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Escaping Prison

One of the more vivid prayer-visions I have experienced, and one with a comforting message, came during prayers when we were still fairly new to our homechurch. And when I was still getting used to the whole idea that God would put pictures in my head to coincide with something He was teaching me.

The picture was like a 3-D snapshot: rough-hewn stone walls formed a box, much taller than a man and wholly insurmountable. Down the middle of the box was a man-made block-and-mortar wall, just slightly taller than, but easily climbable by a man. The stone walls formed a prison around the sole figure kneeling on the grassy floor of the box. The block wall cast shade on the figure.

The one and only feature in the picture that managed to transcend the walls was a stream of cool, clear water. It entered at one end, flowing under the stone wall, under the block-and- mortar wall and then under the other stone wall. I could see the stream outside the stone walls as well, flowing to infinity in both directions.

The kneeling figure was scooping water from the stream to his mouth.

The interpretation for this came after several hours of thinking and praying on it. What I got was that the stone walls were a prison, the prison of the “flesh world”. The walls were impossible to climb; there was no escape. The only hope for escape appeared to be the man-made wall, easy to scale for the average man. The block wall represented religion—man-made and offering the promise of escape, but falling for short of its promise. It was dead center in the prison, too far from the perimeter walls to facilitate climbing or even jumping to the top of the stone walls. There was no escape, no hope. Except…

The stream of water. Jesus’. His love streamed through the prison, offering refreshment, hope, and salvation for the prisoners. Only Jesus has the power to enter and leave the prison at will; stone walls mean nothing to Him. He even transcends the manmade wall of religion, flowing right through it, unchanged, determined, inexorable.

That is what Jesus is in my life: cool, clear, refreshing hope and freedom. Freedom from concerns about this world. Escape from the prison of this flesh world.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Goin' Deeper

I was thinking I should explain the title of my blog, Talkin’ with God. I know non-believers have a good time when someone says they "hear God". They grin and roll their eyes. It's especially bad when a televangelist says, “God told me X” where X usually is some form of asking you, the unwashed and unsaved, to send in large donations “for the Lawd” to build a new radio station or college building. I grin and roll my eyes at those too.

But I do talk with God on a regular basis. And He talks with me. He has not asked me to ask you to send in a donation to help keep this blog going. Yet. But then again, it’s free!

What He has told me, through various ways—music, dreams, prayer-visions, other believers—is usually an answer, to a direct question or one I wasn’t even aware I was asking until He provided the answer.

Once, while praying with head down and eyes closed, I became aware mid-prayer of a picture in front of my mind’s eye. (That’s how most of my prayer-visions happen: I’ll be subconsciously looking at the vision for a few heartbeats before I realize it's even there and think “wait, what’s this picture?”)

This vision was a white tree-stump, maybe 3-feet across and cut off about a foot tall, a few exposed hips of roots disappearing into the ground. It was as if the tree was bleached white, to where even the age rings were just barely visible. The picture was still, like a photograph, but as I became aware of it, a branch of brown grew out of the side and green leaves sprouted. As the leaves unfurled, I heard, in my own internal voice but not “generated” by me, the words, “You think you have reached the end, but I have a new direction for you.”

At the time, our homechurch was going through some turmoil, with one family cutting ties and leaving us with hurt feelings and confusion. At the time, I believed the vision was in regards to that situation. But after awhile, I realized God was talking directly to me. And maybe to everyone in our church, through me.

What new direction did He have for me? The only answer I have is “deeper”, like the roots of the tree disappearing into the ground. As in my relationship with Him. In the two or three years since that vision, I have learned more about me and my status in the world then I learned in the first 40+ years.

What is my status? Most importantly, I am a beloved son of God. And that is something I did not know even after nearly four decades of living (and being a superficial Believer). At the least, I am a fool, trying to make my way in a world that makes less and less sense every single day.

The truth is, with each sunrise, my mind is boggled anew at the utter insanity of humans. Should I try to fix things? Should I even keep abreast of human events? (My wife says no!) What about my son? What kind of world am I leaving for him and his children? Shouldn’t I make a stand for him?

As a child of God, I have the exquisite gift of not needing to make sense of this crazy world. It is temporary. It is irrelevant. It is a scenic (and scary) overlook on my journey to Jesus. I just need to remember to look to Jesus instead of the world when things get crazy. And when things get beautiful. And when things are just…things.

As for my son, the most important stand I can make and the best gift I can give him is this lesson: If God tells you to go deeper, go deeper.

I have asked God how deep (it was the fool in me), but He hasn’t answered that question yet. I must not be there yet!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Highway of Holiness

So my dream the other night involved a highway. I was traveling this highway, at various times, in a car with Andrew and alone on my butt. This highway was, at various times, exasperating, dangerous, unfinished and very high in the air.

At church on Sunday, in response to a different conversation altogether, Corey read Isaiah 35:8-10, which reads:

8 A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it,
But it shall be for others.
Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
Shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it;
It shall not be found there.
But the redeemed shall walk there,
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Minda looked at me with eyes wide, as she pointed at the scripture in her bible. And I looked...oblivious, according to her.

Later I realized, that perhaps this was more of God's answer.

According to this scripture, the Highway of Holiness will not have danger or the unsaved.

Obviously the dream highway I was on was not the Highway of Holiness: it was filled with danger--not lions, but careening traffic and detours that made no sense.

What about the car I followed across the shortcut? Was that driver a fool, like me, looking for the Highway of Holiness. Or an angel who led me to the other side?

And on the other side, I found my wife, helping to build the Highway of Holiness. I looked to her for help, in my dream. And it can be said that in my life, she helped lead me to Christ.
I love it when God talks with me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Building Ramps (part 2) (see "Sharpening My Saw" below)

When I first suspected that God’s answer was contained in Haggai, as excited as I was, I was still wondering if I was “hearing” God’s answer correctly. So as I lay down to sleep that night, I prayed that God would make it clear to me that He had indeed provided my answer.

That night I had this dream:

I am driving the highways of the Twin Cities in the Saturn, with Andrew in the backseat. I am frustrated because everywhere we go there is road construction. And every detour requires us to go two steps backward for one step forward. As I start up yet another exit ramp for a detour, I notice a straight shot across the highway and median that would avoid the mess ahead of me. So I back off the side of the exit ramp, slipping in between two of the orange and white pylons to wait for an opening in the traffic. I have to wait for a clear shot across two lanes, the median and then onto the lanes going the opposite direction.

It’s hard to see if the way is clear, but when another car makes the left turn across the median, I race forward and follow it. I make it across to the other side and shoot up a very high ramp, suddenly with no car, no Andrew, just me on my butt. The ramp is narrow, about five feet across and when I look over the side, it sways to that side. I know I can scoot back down, but every movement causes so much sway that I am too terrified to move. I’m at least fifty feet in the air.

I look to my left and there’s a crew working on another ramp perpendicular to the one I’m on, about twenty feet away. I notice one of the workers stretching a white rope diagonally across the end of the ramp to strengthen it. The worker does it in the opposite direction as well, forming an X.

Or a CROSS of white.

The worker, I now see, is Minda.

Attempting to interpret this dream, I draw these conclusions: the confusing, tangled highways I travel represent my life: tangled and confusing, and hard to really get anywhere. I am trying to lead Andrew, as a good father should, but my anger gets the better of me and I make a rash decision, losing him on my mad dash across the highway. By following and trusting someone I don’t know, I squeak through, apparently safe, only to find myself alone and in more danger. And the one who offers me an answer—Jesus, as represented by the white cross—is my helpmate, Minda.

Thank You, Father God for the answer.

Sharpening My Saw

After thirteen years of fairly reliable service as a fossil-fuel burning member of our family, my wife Minda’s Saturn appeared to be giving up the ghost.

In very short order we replaced the battery, starter, radiator, coil packs, spark plug wires, fuel pressure regulator, motor mounts (right side), and the serpentine belt. After approximately $1500, I said “Enough!” And the Saturn took it to heart and has been running beautifully ever since.

The next day my Ford’s alternator went out and the battery died!

Some might look at the situation and say “What a weird coincidence!” Others might curse and say, “Man I have bad luck!” I did a little of both and then wondered, “Is God trying to tell me something? Or is Satan sending his combustion-engine-minions out en masse?”

My friend Doug suggested I ask God straight out what was going on. So I did. Didn’t get an answer right away, but the next morning I noticed Minda had written out chapter one from Haggai and left it sitting on the table for her women’s bible study evening. I read through it bleary-eyed as I sipped my coffee. About halfway through, it hit me: this was God’s answer!

You see, God tells Haggai to ask the people and their leader, Zerubbabel, “What about my house?” They had laid the foundation for the new temple, but then started working on their own homes, planting their crops, and living a life with God down near the bottom of the list.

That certainly pertained to my situation. I had a good relationship with God, and as head of our family, felt I was doing a good job of building a residence for Jesus to live in our life. But, I hadn’t cracked the bible in the last few months. I had stopped my daily reading of Oswald Chambers a week-and-a-half ago. I had even let my morning bible study with my son Andrew, fall to the wayside.

I had stopped building the temple.

The Israelites noticed their harvests were dwindling because of drought. I suspect if they had owned cars, the radiators would have leaked.

Fortunately, the people heard Haggai’s word and “showed reverence for the Lord” (1:12). And they got busy on the Lord’s temple.

God rewarded them, first by reminding them that “I am with you”. Twice in fact. And He told them, “from this day on I will bless you.” And He told Zerubbabel, the leader, that “…I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you”.

I would love to be God’s signet ring!

I believe God used the car problems to call me back to His side, to remind me to “build His house, so he can build mine.” I’m sharpening my saw.